Brilliant and original, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers introduces a remarkable new writer whose breathtaking stories are set in China and among Chinese Americans in the United States. In this rich, astonishing collection, Yiyun Li illuminates how mythology, politics, history, and culture intersect with personality to create fate. From the bustling heart of Beijing, to a fast-food restaurant in Chicago, to the barren expanse of Inner Mongolia, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers reveals worlds both foreign and familiar, with heartbreaking honesty and in beautiful prose.
“Immortality,” winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for new writers, tells the story of a young man who bears a striking resemblance to a dictator and so finds a calling to immortality. In “The Princess of Nebraska,” a man and a woman who were both in love with a young actor in China meet again in America and try to reconcile the lost love with their new lives.
“After a Life” illuminates the vagaries of marriage, parenthood, and gender, unfolding the story of a couple who keep a daughter hidden from the world. And in “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” in which a man visits America for the first time to see his recently divorced daughter, only to discover that all is not as it seems, Li boldly explores the effects of communism on language, faith, and an entire people, underlining transformation in its many meanings and incarnations.
These and other daring stories form a mesmerizing tapestry of revelatory fiction by an unforgettable writer.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Thousand Years of Good Prayers: Stories|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Thousand Years of Good Prayers: Stories
Granny Lin walks in the street on a november afternoon with a stainless steel lunch pail in her hand. Inside the lunch pail is an official certificate from her working unit. “Hereby we confirm Comrade Lin Mei is honorably retired from Beijing Red Star Garment Factory,” says the certificate in bright golden characters.
It does not say that Red Star Garment Factory has gone bankrupt or that, being honorably retired, Granny Lin will not receive her pension. Of course it will not provide such information, for these facts are simply not true. “Bankrupt” is the wrong word for a state-owned industry. “Internal reorganization” is what has been kindly omitted in the certificate. And, mind this, Granny Lin’s pension is being withheld only temporarily. For how long, the factory has no further information to offer.
“There is always a road when you get into the mountain,” Auntie Wang, Granny Lin’s neighbor, says to her upon being informed of Granny Lin’s situation.
“And there is a Toyota wherever there is a road.” The second line of Toyota’s commercial slips out before Granny realizes it.
“There you go, Granny Lin. I know you are an optimistic person. Stay positive and you will find your Toyota.”
But where on earth can she find a way to replenish her dwindling savings? For a few days Granny Lin adds, subtracts, and divides, and she decides that her savings will run out in a year—in two years if she can skip a meal here and there, go to bed right after sunset, and stay bundl